Serenus Colburn was born in Ansonia, CT, on October 12, 1871. At the age of 15, he came to Minneapolis and a year later became apprentice to architect James C. Plant. He entered the office of William Channing Whitney in 1891, where he became head draftsman until becoming a partner of Frederick Kees in 1899. The successful partnership resulted in the design of a number of important buildings in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, including Brown and Bigelow (St. Paul) (1913); the Chamber of Commerce/Grain Exchange (Minneapolis) (1900-1902); Advance Thresher-Emerson Newton Plow Company (1900-1904) and the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company warehouse (1910-1911), both in Minneapolis. After the firm dissolved in 1921, Colburn entered partnership with Ernest Forsell, where he remained until his death on January 13, 1927.